Dayton, Ohio — The 2016 Carillon Tree of Light was illuminated for the first time on Nov. 30, during A Carillon Christmas event. This will be the second annual lighting of the holiday centerpiece at Carillon Historical Park and will kick off a monthlong celebration of activities.
Brady Kress is president and CEO of Dayton History and manages the park. He said the idea for the Carillon Tree of Light had been in the works for about a dozen years.
“It was something that I’d wanted to do since I came back to Dayton in 2003,” Kress said. “I had been working in historical preservation in Indianapolis, where they do something similar at Monument Circle downtown. I kept a picture of that and drew an adaptation that would work for Carillon.”
However, the project kept getting delayed by a lack of funding. Dayton History is a private nonprofit organization that works to preserve, share and celebrate regional history.
“In the summer of 2015, we unveiled a dozen key projects that we wanted to accomplish in the next 10 years,” Kress said. “That very night, a donor came forward to make this happen. We quickly put it into action.”
Like last year, the 2016 Carillon Tree of Light will have 96 strands of lights attached from the ground to a steel tower atop the 151-foot Deeds Carillon to form a 200-foot illuminated conical holiday tree shape.
In addition to last year, there have been some key structural upgrades made.
Last December, a couple of weeks after installation, a windstorm buckled the steel mast atop the Deeds Carillon. No one was hurt, but the display had to be shut down for the season.
“None of the lines or mooring points were compromised,” Kress said, “but the central staff was twisted.”
Woolpert — a national architecture, engineering and geospatial firm based in Dayton — was brought into the fold this year to design the revised structure.
“We met with the contractor and listened to what he was trying to do,” said Frank Monastra, Woolpert project manager. “Through a very collaborative process, we came up with a solution.”
The new design incorporates the strict weight limit of 4,500 pounds per section, including the lights, necessary for the crane pick. It also factors in the stringing of the lights and eventual dismantling sequence, while meeting all code requirements and coming in within cost parameters.
The structure also is designed to resist 90-mph winds, Monastra said, given the location and the fact that wind pressure increases with elevation.
“The original design intent by the contractor was a good one; it just needed some engineering muscle and modifications,” said Monastra, who also lauded Woolpert Engineering Tech Doug Ellis for detailing the steel tower and preparing drawings on the project. “This new design mimics commonly used design approaches for telecommunication towers.”
A Carillon Christmas will occur every night through Dec. 30, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“There will be holiday food, live music and everything,” Kress said. “The park takes on a different environment at night, and the Carillon Tree of Light will be a beacon for the park and the Dayton area.”